Is it possible for a car to become too popular? From a maker’s perspective, I guess the answer is no, as a healthy order bank is just what they want.
But what about motorists? I’m only asking the question as I’ve found an unexpected problem caused by the huge popularity of the Kia Sportage.
It came to light after a recent collision with an uninsured Renault Clio. Thankfully I was not hurt, or at fault come to that, but the passenger side of the Kia didn’t emerge unscathed. The front wing and door both bear battle scars, as does one of the newly replaced alloy wheels.
Having gone through all the formalities associated with such an accident, I left the car with the repairer and waited for a call to say it was ready for collection.
A week later I was informed that the car’s door and wing were on back order, so the work hadn’t even been started. They will take up to four weeks to arrive, so I’m currently driving a less-than-perfect Kia while I wait for the parts to turn up.
Admittedly, it’s hardly the end of the world, as the car is still perfectly driveable, but it just goes to show that long showroom waiting lists aren’t the only side effect when a model really captures the imagination of the car buying public. In fairness, I know exactly why the Sportage has been such a hit.
I’ve been really impressed with its comfort and long-legged cruising ability over the last 11 months. Mind you, I had a brief stint behind the wheel of another car recently that eclipsed my front-wheel-drive 1.7 CRDi model. It was the Sportage 2.0-litre CRDi which beat the revised VW Tiguan in a twin test, and I instantly preferred its more powerful engine and precise driving dynamics.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been really impressed with our car, but the larger 2.0-litre diesel engine makes the Sportage an even more relaxing motorway cruiser and its extra shove is handy for overtaking. I also fear the 4x4 drivetrain could come into its own over the months and weeks ahead.
November has been unusually mild so far, but if we get another bout of heavy snow, my two-wheel-drive model will be no more capable than a traditional family hatchback. I suppose that’s one of the drawbacks of crossover models; they look like proper off-roaders, but unless you choose a four-wheel-drive variant you don’t get the traction to match.
Of course, opting for a 4x4 will have an impact on price. The step up from our 1.7-litre version to an equivalent 2.0 CRDi will cost buyers £2,430 at the outset, and fuel economy drops by more than 10mpg. So unless you really need the security of 4WD, it’s easy to see the appeal of our 2WD model.
On the subject of wheels, I was interested to see if any readers had experienced the same problem with corroding alloy wheels as we did. In my last report, I explained how we had all four of ours replaced under warranty, and I expected to hear from other owners who’d suffered a similar experience. But judging by the response to our story, I’ve just been unlucky. And not for the first time, either...
“The Kia is a great-looking crossover and it represents fine value, too. I just wish it was as fun to drive as a Skoda Yeti or Ford Kuga. If Kia could improve the dynamic appeal of its cars, it really would be unstoppable.”
Ross Pinnock, Road test editor